Wot I Think: Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition

Final-Fantasy-XV-header-620x320-rec

The story of Final Fantasy XV is a tricky one to unpick. There’s the story about how it took ten years to actually come out, transforming from a Final Fantasy XIII spin-off into the boyband roadtrip-stag-do adventure we know today. There’s also the story of what happened after it came out, where a large chunk of its third act was almost completely rewritten and streamlined after people started complaining about how linear it had suddenly become after spending hours and hours on the glorious open road.

Then there’s the story of the game itself, which, at this point, has been spread across so many different forms of media, including a film, four anime episodes, four bits of DLC, a mobile spin-off and a multiplayer expansion (with even more to come, no less), that only three people in the entire universe actually understand it and would be able to recite it to you from start to finish.

But the story of four lads saving their home from an invading imperial army isn’t really what Final Fantasy XV is about. In fact, it’s arguably the least memorable thing about it. That might sound blasphemous for a JRPG, where the story is traditionally one of the most important parts of a game, but every conservation I’ve had about Final Fantasy XV over the last sixteen months always boils down to one of three things: food, photos and friendship. And it’s those that make it one of the best and most interesting goddamn JRPGs of the last decade.

I’ll be delving into some of the more PC-specific bits of Final Fantasy XV over the coming days, including a more detailed look at all those lovely graphics options as well as its mods and online multiplayer expansion. Right now, though, I want to talk about those three core pillars that make this game so special and how they keep this indulgent, behemoth-sized monstrosity from collapsing in on itself.

Final Fantasy XV lads

At its heart lies the unbreakable bond between prince hero Noctis and his three mates, the cheery selfie-obsessed Prompto, walking beefcake Gladio and sensible squad dad Ignis. No other game has even come close to portraying male friendship in quite the same way as Final Fantasy XV, and it’s this endearing, earnest relationship that continues to drive the game forward even long after the plot’s gone decidedly south in the second half.

Noctis himself is a sullen kind of chap, almost to the point where his offhand, indifferent goodbye to his dad (aka the king of Lucis) at the start of the game makes him seem downright obnoxious. But unlike the whiny heroes of Final Fantasies past, it quickly becomes apparent that there’s a lot more to this pampered prince than meets the eye, and the reams of incidental dialogue he trades with his mates, both on and off the battlefield in major and minor quests alike, go a long way in making him feel like a believable, nuanced human being with a proper personality.

Whether it’s Ignis teasing him for not getting his lazy ass out of bed in the morning and then having Gladio cajole him into going for an early morning run on the beach to prove Ignis wrong, or having Prompto confide in him about his doubts and worth as a Kingsguard soldier around a late night campfire, it’s these recurring little moments of dialogue away from the BIG PLOT about SAVING THE WORLD that stick with you, and the ones you’ll remember long after the credits have started to roll. These aren’t three guards doing their duty to protect a prince they’re escorting to his wedding; they’re buddies you’ve known since childhood who are here to take care of you and make sure you don’t embarrass yourself in front of your new bride-to-be.

Final Fantasy XV beach run

It’s largely why I ended up camping out with them under the stars so often over the course of my journey, even when hotels and camper vans offered much more tempting EXP-multipliers when I eventually decided to call it a day. For unlike previous games in the series, EXP must be banked in Final Fantasy XV, and it’s only when you close your eyes that you can consolidate your hours of monster murdering and level up.

An unnecessary chore and archaic throwback to RPGs of yore, perhaps, but forcing you to take five every now and again is secretly the most progressive thing that’s ever happened to a Final Fantasy game, and a large part of why I continue to love it despite its many, MANY flaws.

One of the other big reasons why I kept pitching my tent instead of flopping down on a nice comfy bed, for instance, was so I could savour yet another one of Ignis’ delicious home-cooked recipes and stare longingly at close-up shots of mouth-watering stews, towering burgers and artisan toast in glorious 4K.

Cooking isn’t new to games, of course, and neither are the plentiful stat bonuses they bring to your party. But in Final Fantasy XV, cooking is an event that ties everything together, from the way you approach your next fight to how you explore the world around you.

Final Fantasy XV food

It starts when you’re poring over the menu deciding what to have, as the type of food available depends on what ingredients you’ve gathered during the day. There are always a handful of dishes you can make without any extra foodstuffs (hello endless toast dinners), but more exotic items you find strewn around the world will naturally yield much tastier stat buffs, giving you more than enough reason to get out of your ludicrously large car and venture off the beaten track.

It pays to look a bit further afield, however, as Ignis can also crib new recipes off other meals you eat at the local Crow’s Nest diners scattered about the world (the plagiarising bastard), or come up with brand new concoctions that are all his own whenever you find an edible bit of monster flesh in your battle spoils, indulge in a bit of fishing, or catch a glimpse of something mentioned on a town poster. It’s a highly natural and organic way of developing your skill set, and when you see your tasty treat finally being set down on the table in front of you, the camera lingering over its glistening sauces for a moment while you drink it all in, you instantly know that the time it’s taken to get everything together for it has been absolutely worth it.

Final Fantasy XV photos

The longer you spend poking around the corners of Lucis, the more time Prompto has to document it all with his camera, too. This is easily one of Final Fantasy XV’s greatest masterstrokes, and another ingenious way it strengthens, magnifies and consolidates the bond you share with your band of boys. From candid camera shots during important cutscenes or a cool picture of you fighting back to back in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in the heat of battle, having the space to breathe and look back on your journey like this just makes everything seem that bit more real and personal. Yes, you might have fought dozens of garula mammoths that day, but the time you tripped up and almost fell on your ass trying to roll out the way? That one you’ll remember forever.

Admittedly, I was worried the new first-person mode, activated with a tap of N on the keyboard (presumably for Noctis), might destroy the magic of Prompto’s camera work, as part of what made the photos so appealing in the first place was their ability to capture those details that weren’t really visible to the naked eye. Switch to first-person, however, and I can now look those hulking garula in the face and watch every last Nvidia Hairworks-enabled follicle flop about on their furry backsides (which works even if you’ve got an AMD graphics card, I might add), letting me see another side of this world I never thought possible.

In practice, though, the first-person mode only adds to Prompto’s hobby rather than take anything away from it. It’s great for getting up close and personal with the world and admiring all the mad little touches that have gone into it (especially if you’re playing in 4K with the high resolution texture packs), but it also lacks Prompto’s sense of style and personality, as he’s still the only way you’re going to get a selfie with Gladio in the back of the car ruffling your poofy, poofy hair.

Final Fantasy XV first person

Fighting in first-person also feels disappointingly flat, as you not only lose your peripheral vision for spotting incoming foes, but you also miss out on the grand, sweeping shots of your friends when you initiate one of their special combo attacks, leaving you nose-deep in a wall of fuzz while all the action plays out behind you.

Combat is fast and fluid in Final Fantasy XV, and maintaining an overview of the battlefield is absolutely vital if you want to come out of it alive. Foes will run circles round you when you’re dealing with them in packs and herds, and most will attack at any time given half the chance. At night, you’ve got to be even more alert, too, as you’ll often find extra nasty ones suddenly bubbling up out of the ground once the sun’s no longer there keeping them at bay.

Fortunately, Final Fantasy XV’s interpretation of real-time combat borrows more from the realms of real-time strategy than action-adventure games, giving you more head room to analyse and survey the options around you instead of worrying about annoying things like targetting and timed button combos. Noctis, for instance, will attack automatically with one of his four weapons as long as you’re holding down the left mouse button, while Prompto, Gladio and Ignis are all perfectly capable of looking after themselves and are quick to come to your aid when things start getting hairy. Get into the right position on the battle field and you’ll also execute special attacks that can break an enemy’s guard, make them stumble or deal extra damage.

Your prince’s extensive arsenal also provides plenty of room for experimentation, and those on mouse and keyboard can easily cycle through them with a scroll of your mouse wheel. You could be whaling on a downed enemy with a short, sharp sword one minute and switch to a lolloping great broadsword or long-range pistol the next, and still feel like you’re in control enough of the battle to unleash one of those aforementioned combo attacks with a quick tap of Shift and WASD at the end of it.

Final Fantasy XV battle

Noctis also has the handy ability to warp around the battlefield, with damage multiplying the further he flies. This not only makes battles feel more cinematic than other more modern RPGs, but it also gives you a handy escape route should things prove too tough. Switch to first-person, however, and all its choreographed flair and sense of showmanship goes out the window, leaving you with decidedly less interesting-looking battles that fail to capture what makes fighting alongside these daft fools so thrilling and exciting.

If anything, Nvidia’s Ansel tech is more of a threat to Prompto’s photography, as this really lets you go to town on capturing the game your way without having to rely on an AI to do it for you. Ultimately, though, it all accomplishes the same thing, and that’s giving you the time and space to really look at this bonkers world and your journey within it with fresh eyes and see it for what it really is – not a hodge-podge plot line that doesn’t make any sense and goes seriously off the rails half way through, or indeed a long to-do list of quests whose specific NPCs must all be spoken to again in order to complete them (even when they live at the end of an 800ft pier miles away from the nearest car park), but an honest, charming, endearing adventure with your bestest of mates who are just a pleasure to hang out with and spend time in their company.

It’s by no means the best Final Fantasy game there’s ever been, especially once it forces you to bid farewell to your easy-going road trip and sit on a literal train for the rest of the story, providing tiny, tantalizing glimpses of other open worlds that might have been if only they’d had another ten years to actually finish the damn thing, but I’ll eat my chocobo hat if it isn’t the most interesting, experimental and important one the series has ever seen. And it’s all down to food, photos and four lovely lads.

Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition is out now for, well, Windows via Steam and Humble for £35/$50/€50.

66 Comments

  1. ThTa says:

    While I’ll probably be waiting a bit before getting this game, it’s well worth noting that it’s currently got a ~20% discount on Green Man Gaming.

  2. steves says:

    Blimey, that is without a doubt the best in-game tasty meat graphics I have ever seen.

    Clickable screenshots though – what witchcraft is this?

    Not that I’m complaining mind you, hi-res images are very welcome. Especially for something like this, but these are 4k, and expand way beyond my puny 2560 pixels, and can only be closed by the tiny little button that scrolls way off screen (and is also a broken image link).

    Anyway, keeping this one on the radar for when I get a bigger monitor, and graphics cards are affordable again…could be a while.

  3. digital_sneeze says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever bounced off a game as hard as I did this. I did recently with Breath of the Wild but ended up loving it, but I just can’t see myself getting into this so I’m a tad disappointed, but not overly surprised. I went through FFs 9 and 12 in the past month, which I both love, but just can’t break through the mundane combat and characters to even get into the story, but if it’s filled with zingers like this I’m probably not missing out on too much.

    “That thing’s like half-bird, half-storm, half-airship!”

    “You realize that’s 3 halves…”

    Guess a lot more people are liking this more than 13 and 13-2, which is nice I suppose, but I’m hoping the next game tries something a bit more mature, or unique.

    • geldonyetich says:

      “Hmm, this game is one of the most advanced ever made… but I disagree with the writer’s idea of dialogue! Into the bin it goes.”

      • digital_sneeze says:

        What a weird reply. Are you sure you meant that for me? Am I supposed to forgive anime-writing cliches and caricatures because the game has a pretty graphics engine and nice animation?

        I’d take a stronger, more distinctive art-style than an “advanced game.”

        Not agreeing with a writer’s idea of dialogue is just a fancy way of saying “taste.” So yes, the writing isn’t to my taste. Sorry mate.

        • zabieru says:

          Not so much to your address as for others who might be reading along, but…

          I initially shared your reaction to the dialog. It quickly becomes clear, though, that it’s a bit of an in-joke: these are four friends who make bad jokes to get a rise out of one another. The “three halves” thing was a weak sally, to be sure, but not everything’s going to land.

          It grew on me, in the end. It’s also worth noting that there’s a LOT of dialog. Some of it’s repeated, but there seem to be quite a lot of lines that are situationally triggered and unlikely to repeat. As I’m currently tearing my hair out at Far Cry’s repetitive companion-banter, I’m grateful for that.

  4. Fnord73 says:

    “No other game has even come close to portraying male friendship in quite the same way”

    … according to the way Friends and other gameshows show male bonding. Jeez. I could start ranting here about how games dumb us down, but that sentence is really atrocious. Double Dragon did a better job.

  5. Artea says:

    “No other game has even come close to portraying male friendship in quite the same way as Final Fantasy XV”

    What friendship? The characters in this game are caricatures, who have no inner life of their own and exist solely to prop up the main character Noctis. I’m absolutely baffled so many people praise this aspect, when it’s one of the most shallow depictions of friendship I’ve ever seen in any piece of fiction.

    • drsw36 says:

      I disagree. The relationship between Noctis and his friends is very well done.

      • modzero says:

        Yes, yes, “my best friends are my driver, my bodyguard and my personal photographer” is truly a great illustration of friendship. I mean, if male friendship is truly like 4 people walking around being low-key abusive of each other while desperately trying to enjoy prescribed activities they I pity y’all.

        I mean, I enjoy the game. It’s very pretty, if a bit inconsistent, and the guys are nice to look at. Unfortunately any charm goes away the moment they say _anything_. On a bad day I might say that’s an accurate representation, but I actually know from experience it’s physically possible for someone looking like Gladio to say something interesting and not call the photographerbest friend a wuss all the time.

        The weird thing is, I actually like the combat. Maybe I got some other game that’s opposite of the one everyone else is reviewing. Would explain a lot.

        • KingFunk says:

          “I mean, if male friendship is truly like 4 people walking around being low-key abusive of each other while desperately trying to enjoy prescribed activities they I pity y’all.”

          Sounds reasonably accurate to me…

  6. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Katherine, this is a lovely review that articulates my exact experience during the opening hours of the game (I’m not farther yet). I’m not remotely surprised to hear that the plot goes south (particularly given that I saw Kingsglaive and it’s plotting is…quite bad) but as easy as it is to make fun of, the bro road trip trappings are a genuine breath of fresh air and quite delightful.

    • Katharine Byrne says:

      Cheers! :)

    • Hieronymusgoa says:

      I saw Kingsglaive and didn’t have expectations before but boy were they still underwhelmed. It is the prettiest film, but at the same time without any understandable story, I’ve ever seen. That my friend, who has a big final-form-of-kefka-tattoo over half of his body, liked it I must explain with fanboyism.

  7. racccoon says:

    Dam good review its my only way of being there. The cryptos have messed with pc game builds, I’m unlikely not to build for a while unless the cryptotossers collapse & burn. Currently they are ruining PC building turning our hardware into junk bots causing a influx of overloaded power adding holes into our already messed up carbon footprint, just for a lucky draw. the guy who invented this needs to look hard at what he has caused. which is not environmentally friendly at all.

    • digital_sneeze says:

      Thanks for that rambling diatribe.

      • Minglefingler says:

        The comment wasn’t offensive, I see no need to sneer. People should sneer less on the internet.

        • digital_sneeze says:

          It was still a rambling diatribe though, and a fairly amusing one at that. Never suggested it was offensive, like. I’d rather the internet have a bit of personality, with the odd facetious comment here and there.

  8. malkav11 says:

    Whether or not I end up getting on with the game in the long term, it really is such a departure from the series to date in a lot of refreshing ways (and, while I was worried about the move to real-time combat – not generally a fan – it seems reasonably manageable so far and deeper than they’ve presented in games like Crisis Core and early Kingdom Hearts). It’s such a weird feeling to be warp-swording very Final-Fantasy-ish monsters and then wander back to the…stylish four-seater car and…get cell phone calls…and…have chili at the diner…and play some weird quasi-pinball thing I completely don’t understand.

  9. kraylus says:

    You summed it up. Food, photos and friendship.

    If I wanted a virtual cooking game that let’s me collect recipes then I would have stuck to Android gaming. If I wanted a bunch of meaningless screenshots of four gay lovers I would have gotten some gay porn.

    And the dialogue is so cheesy and out of place. Its almost as if the quests were AI-generated. “Hey, Noct. I need to you come with me and take a picture of this garage.”

    “Hey, Noct, can you help me cook tomorrow morning?”

    Seriously?

    And then the product placement. Good Lord. Gladiolus’ over the top speil on fucking Cup O’Noodles. At one point I thought for sure he was gonna stick his dick in one.

    All these random, nonsensical scenes somehow managed to add up to a great game? Are you fucking high? The whole experience was disjointed an rushed.

    But the biggest fucking kicker?

    All this catastrophic shit is going down and these four fucks are galavanting around taking photos, riding chocobos, seeing the sites and soaking up the rays.

    I couldn’t even take this epic story seriously.

    A grand waste of ten years of development.

    • drsw36 says:

      Gay lovers? Really? Having a game with four male friends is making you that insecure?

      • Phantom_Renegade says:

        I don’t know why you’re upset about them being gay. Personally I think it’s very progressive of Square-Enix.

    • mxmissile says:

      its a good thing i’ve never been into JRPGs or FF games… oh and lol

    • Tobberoth says:

      Your comment about them being gay lovers is stupid, I agree with everything else you said though, the whole idea of the game is so god damn boring. Kingsglaive should have been the game, while the friends-on-a-roadtrip reality show should have been a side-movie.

    • KingFunk says:

      I’ve never played a FF game before, but I tried out the demo for this and I find that the stuff Katharine praised is what sold me on the game. I kind of wish there were more games about a gang of harmless eejits going on a camping roadtrip and pissing about, whilst incidentally ending up in brawls and ridiculous plots.

      I can see why people might bounce off it stylistically – some people seem to like a certain type of Japanese cultural output and some can’t stand it. However, I also gather that ludicrousness has always been a staple of the series and I’d rather a bit of that than gritty realism if I’m honest…

  10. geldonyetich says:

    Good review, I generally agree that the game is not without flaws and generally amazing, and find myself somewhat surprised at the excuses I’m hearing not to play it. The vocal minority is quite committed, and I question their motivations a bit.

    Hey, if you don’t have time to play the game, it’s not your cup of tea, or you just can’t afford it, that’s fine, no need to say you shut down a multi-million dollar extravaganza wrought by some of the best developers in the business just because you’re a DRM rebel or you can’t get behind their characterization or emphasis on food, photos, and friendship. Note not many are complaining about the port, which is pretty stellar, although I did find it disappointing I couldn’t name my chocobo because it wouldn’t recognize the letters input on the keyboard.

    That said, the game is a bit of a radical departure in some ways, and I think it’s understandable it’ll rub some of the hardcore fans the wrong way. (Honestly, name me a major franchise that *does not* rub part of a hardcore fan base the wrong way whenever they release every major installment?) I don’t think I would be in favor of the game if it was faceroll casual, it does have some reasonable depth in the central combat mechanic, but it’s not the same kind of depth as a turn-based game. Plus, Noct and his buddies wandering around Eos as some kind of extended roadtrip is unlike the flow of any Final Fantasy to come before it.

    Overall, I dodged the hangups, and I’m really liking it. YMMV, of course.

    • digital_sneeze says:

      Characterisation is of paramount important in a JRPG though, at least for me, so I don’t find that to be a spurious motive for not being able to get into it. If you don’t have a basis of good characters with some decent writing then you don’t have much of a game unless there’s a stellar combat system in play, which I don’t think it does. Also the overall themes and tone can be a massive turn-off, even for longstanding JRPG fans after they’ve played so many that all feel the same and tell the same kinds of story. Gimme some more Xenogears, Vagrant Story or SMT: Nocturne and I would be happy.

      • geldonyetich says:

        See, now I’d disagree that the writing is bad, or that the characterization is poor. I think they story is a bit more coherent (at least early on) and the characters are deeper and more likable than most games in the series.

        Sure, they talk like a particular vein of ignorant little bastards in the prime of their lives, but that’s the thing: they are. The developers are aware of it, too. Old Man Cid can see it, that’s why he gives Noct a lambasting when they first meet. They’re here to grow up, the plot is largely about that.

        Now, if these things are just not you cup of tea, that’s fine, but ultimately it’s just your opinion, and opinions are just that. You’re not expressing a reflection of the value of what the developers chose to do in the game, you’re expressing how those choices conflict with your own values.

        • digital_sneeze says:

          Well everything of this nature is an extention of opinion, that goes without saying. I’ve no doubt lots of people like the writing and character style in 15. I would still argue there’s less depth and originality in 15 than there could have been, which is why I don’t like it, personally. That was my original point: some people aren’t going to like for those, and other, reasons, so I don’t see why that’s a questionable motive for not liking a JRPG. It’s all opinion and taste anyway.

          • geldonyetich says:

            I suppose an opinion is only a questionable motive if an individual is overly intransigent about it.

            My criticism is basically that: they could choose to broaden their horizons and enjoy an incredibly advanced game.

            But maybe this is an unfair expectation, especially if they’re hunkering down due to personal reasons. I’m no psychologist, I couldn’t tell you lurks in the hearts of individuals or why they hold the opinions they do.

            In fact, it seems to be rather trendy in the 21st century to regard an opinion as sacred, irregardless of any logic or evidence to to the contrary. Post truth politics, as it were. So I’m not jockeying for popularity to suggest otherwise, either.

          • digital_sneeze says:

            I’m sure some people are too rigid, especially outsiders who judge 15 because it has that overtly J-Rock boyband look to it, but for me it was simply just immediately recognising too many tropes I’ve experienced before, too much propensity for fairly banal humour that I would have found funny as a teen, and realising I could probably never come to see myself being remotely invested in the characters. After that the idea of slogging it out in a combat system that didn’t win me over and having to run around a world which is probably too big to justify the content lost its appeal to me.

          • Zombiwan Kenobi says:

            I’m not sure that taste matters that much when it comes to asian games since many people who play asian games all day long are obsessed with asian culture (at least what they think it is) and play a lot of asian games – this is not about taste but only about players culture. As long as it’s full of asian clichés it will work.

            FF15 is a good game is you’re only playing this kind of game, that’s how taste usually works, one can easily get used to bad scripts and boring story if he never experienced anything better.

            The taste argument never really works, an older wine will always taste better than a younger one but you can’t know that if you’re only drinking cheap one.

          • digital_sneeze says:

            Putting it all down to “asian culture” seems a bit reductive to me. One can have tastes within what they like of Asian culture. I like some kinds of anime, but dislike other types. FF15 is definitely indicative of a certain type, but there are doubtless plenty of, say, Persona fans that dislike 15. If people are only playing eastern Asian games they’re still going to experience varying approaches and themes.

  11. Raoul Duke says:

    I am shocked – SHOCKED – that after 200 breathless articles referring to this game’s imminent release an obviously huge fan of the series and game would give this a positive review.

    IMHO it would be interesting to hear the reaction of someone who isn’t already into FF. Hopefully there’s a roundtable review coming.

    • SaintAn says:

      I don’t think anyone that would be into this game would be into FF. This is more of a game for people that have never played a real FF so they don’t know how shit it is.

      • Vandelay says:

        Well, as someone who hasn’t ever played an FF game, I can tell you that it wasn’t for me either. It was a great disappointment, as I was genuinely really looking forward to my first experience with the series.

        I don’t disagree with the parts that Katherine highlights, as I did like the friendship between the four main characters and they capture the road trip feel wonderfully. I also felt that, from a distance, the world was beautiful to look at and I actually didn’t dislike the main story (what I played of it). Those elements can only hold your interest for the first handful of hours though. The rest of the game is wandering around a fairly empty open world, completing mundane fetch quests and engaging in uninteresting combat.

        I suspect that the long development time did not help matters. If this had of come out long before The Witcher 3 and not only a few months before Breath of the Wild, then its use of an open world may not have felt so antiquated. As it is though, the gameplay feels like it is copying an out of date style and not very well.

        • Zelos says:

          I’m really sorry that your first experience was this train wreck.

          You really should try one of the earlier games. 4-10 are all great in their own ways, and 6 is legitimately in the running for one of the best games of all time.

      • Zelos says:

        There is a group of FF fans who like 15; they’re the ones who are into yaoi.

        If fantasizing about cute boys having sex with each other is your deal, FFXV is revolutionary and impressive. If you’re looking for good gameplay or an interesting story, look elsewhere.

  12. josborn says:

    I’m torn.

    On the one hand, looking back at the hundred ish hours I spent with this game on PS4 (pre-story patch, admittedly) my overall emotion is . . . Disgust? Irritation? They ruined a fundamentally joyous game with this shitty, maudlin story that had the unbelievable audacity to sprawl across multiple media on an epic road trip up its own ass.

    And yet, God when I think back to the moment-to-moment experience of it, the truth is i enjoyed the hell out of myself for the vast majority of those hundred hours. I was drinking pretty heavy at that point, and one of my favorite things to do was set the car to cruise from one side of the map to the other (ostensibly to go fishing or monster hunting or whatever) crack a beer, crank up the tunes, and just hang out in this beautiful world with these goofy teenagers. It was like a guilt free driving-drunk-in-high-school simulator. I would wake up the next day at some lovely new camp site (or, occasionally, way the Christ down in a dungeon) with no real recollection of how I got there, but it was always a pleasure finding my way back to car.

    So I don’t know. I guess at the end of the day I would recommend FFXV with the caveat that you not let the destination ruin the journey.

    • Mezelf says:

      That reminds me that I played parts of this game high as fuck. I certainly don’t remember which parts, but I do remember getting so confused and out of it that I had to turn the game off. However, once I started listening to some FF tunes I had the most vivid day dreams I’ve ever had in a long time, directly inspired by this game.

      FFXV’s art direction, graphical fidelity and general presentation just cannot be overstated. It’s just so aesthetically pleasing.
      It’s just too bad the gameplay and story wasn’t better.

  13. DragonDai says:

    The last FF game I played was 7. It was meh. Last one I liked was 6 (3 when I played it on the SNES).

    I haven’t been this excited for a game in a long time as I am for FF15. I’m sadly gana have to wait on it cause I need a new computer, am broke, and cryptominers are making an expensive purchase even more expensive, but yeah. I can’t wait to get my hands on this game.

    And it’s for the exact reasons listed here. The idea of a road trip adventure is exactly the sort I want to go on.

    Thanks for the fantastic review.

  14. Zombiwan Kenobi says:

    I still don’t get how can people be so positive about this game, perhaps it’s all about getting used to naive and cheap japanese material cause there’s absolutely nothing that did prevent me from uninstalling this game – nothing at all.

    No memorable moment, story is awfully boring and cliché. Characters are among the least charismatic i’ve ever seen in a game, ridiculous haircuts and nice work on clothes can’t save some of the most badly written toons ever.
    Gameplay is quite boring and repetitive, they did an awful job with the camera and targeting system, which is a real fun killer in japanese action game.
    Even if the game is “well polished” the design direction goes nowhere. Bad guys from nordic inspiration use medieval crusaders as seids, everything mystical comes from japanese lore, world (well when it’s not empty as hell) is european colonial in cities and, for reasons, 50’s american along the roads, game’s design is as consistent as characters psyche or game’s scripts – you really need to not have any culture to enjoy such a mess, really.
    Open world isn’t open at all, environment is locked by highways, invisible wall, fences or worse – rocky “natural” walls. Exploration is boring as hell, vistas are beautiful from afar but from a closer point of view, environment is really dull and boring.
    Minigames are…well, enjoy the asian hype about useless stuff.

    This game is a AAA single player MMOJRPG, reptitive grind in a boring universe with naive and poorly scripted characters. Even Black desert online is more enjoyable than this one, and i’m wondering at this point why repetitive grind is still a thing in such modern games. Do all players turn off their brains nowadays ?

  15. Doug Exeter says:

    It’s really fun. There’s a ton of wailing and gnashing of teeth from the usual Final Fantasy elite but everyone knew that would happen and should be ignored accordingly. The review hit it on the head why the game is a good time despite it’s flaws. The gameplay is solid and the comradery between you and your friends is really entertaining. The battles are a ton of fun, it’s a great time experimenting with all the characters and leveling up their skills.

    Yeah, the plot is a mess and the last third of the game was obviously unfinished but there’s more than enough that they did right to make it worth the purchase. I would have loved to see what Tabata had done with the game from the very beginning instead of just having to fix the complete clusterfuck he was handed. I’m excited to see what comes next under his direction.

    • Nemo1342 says:

      I was looking for the comment that perfectly encapsulates the bizarre, dichotomous nature of this game, and of people’s reaction to this game. The convenient reference to “Final Fantasy elite” to dismiss critiques of the game, the lauding of the moment to moment gameplay, while passing off the fact that “the plot is a mess and the last third of the game was obviously unfinished”.

      I’ve played every FF since IV, which I guess means my opinion “should be ignored accordingly”. For the record, I finished FF XV on the PS4, and probably put about 200 hrs into it. It’s true that there is a lot of good stuff in FF XV. If you ignore the game’s thin RPG elements, combat, story, and characters, this really is an enjoyable game. I know that sounds sarcastic, but it’s really true. I played through the game, and most its side-content and enjoyed much of that experience. The game’s second act is broadly well-paced and enjoyable, the enemy design is uniformly terrific, and the world and its people are charming.

      However, it makes me crazy that this reviewer, and much of the comments section, are content to blithely gloss over the fact that this is a massively flawed game. Its story starts vague and slides toward incoherent before crashing catastrophically into completely broken. Every mechanical element of the game is half-baked, which is actually generous, because the alternative is to call it full-baked but terribly executed. The characters are thin, each with a two-dimensional backstory of the type where their entire life hinges on the pivot point of a single moment, or a single characteristic.

      Which is to say that while it’s ok for me, and you and whoever to enjoy the game, but a review of this sort should start and end with a clear statement that this game is broken and fundamentally not good. You can say all the rest too, and you should, but don’t soft-sell the bottom line.

      • digital_sneeze says:

        It’s funny the terms, phrases and supposed-axioms people come up with to dismiss and mitigate opinions. Just recently on the recent Dark Souls 2 article someone tried to insist that anyone who didn’t think Demon’s Souls was the best game of the series was a “PC gaming revisionist” and that they were “hipsters” for having not played that game first.

        I’ve played every main-line FF and definitely stopped enjoying them from 13 onwards, but still really liked the first Bravely Default, which is an FF in all but name.

      • xenoss says:

        I echo this person’s comment. And want to add a few of my own:

        This game is going for something entirely new, or at least a unique blending of different genres.

        Perhaps they should not have called it Final Fantasy. If anything, bearing the FF name limits its design and perception in more negative ways than positives.

        And many things ARE half-baked, and/or feels dropped, incomplete. The game does enough things right to let us imagine what it COULD have been like. It gives us a glimpse of the possibilities, of something special… but doesn’t deliver on those whispers. It leaves us lamenting on the game that it might have been.

  16. dskzero says:

    This is a weird article.

    It’s wonderfully written, interesting, but all it managed was to turn me completely away from the game.

    • Hieronymusgoa says:

      I felt the same way but I don’t think that that’s weird. It just shows that some people have different tastes (and not surprisingly so) when it comes to games. I personally played so many Square games and at least FF 6,7,8 and parts of 12. But I watched a friend play FFXV and I watched some more on Youtube and constantly thought: This is really pretty. – I am much more into turn based, regardless of how good the realtime action ist. – There is not enough of former magic systems in there for me. …and so decided in the end that it is not for me but I totally understand that someone can get into it. It is by far not a bad game. It might have had an “easier” reception overall if it did not have the Final Fantasy brand on it.

      • dskzero says:

        You nailed it with the last sentence. This just doesn’t really feel like of those FF games I’ve played.

  17. Pulstar says:

    What is it with Japan and Korea and overly effeminate men?

    • Kowie says:

      Nothing grandpa bill o’reilly, its just bunch of young guys as per usual following a trend that is currently fashionable.

  18. mynicksaretaken says:

    Cringe matsuri.

  19. spacedyemeerkat says:

    What were you pouring over the menu? I’m intrigued!

  20. zaphod42 says:

    The story is simply a disaster and the gameplay isn’t good enough to make up for that.

  21. Chaoslord AJ says:

    The chaotic gameplay of the first half hour I played didn’t win me over yet. The cutscenes seem short and to the point which is good.
    The friends do roadtrip approach seems kinda unique esp. regarding the usual premise of FF where you end up with a bunch of strangers for no reason.

  22. noodlecake says:

    Finding it much better than XIII which was atrociously bad. The story seems equally forgettable as XII but the gameplay is on par in different ways.

  23. Nixitur says:

    Haven’t played the game, so I have little to say about it. But what you probably should have mentioned at the end is that the game has a demo. I imagine that would make people more willing to give it a shot.